Monday, February 27, 2012

Greetings from DouLiu

Hello everybody! It's a bit of a shock to be here in a new area that neither I nor my new companion knows, but it's been fun as well.

My new companion is Elder Wei Wong, from Singapore. He comes from a Mormon family, his parents both served missions, and he's doing really great so far. In Singapore they mainly speak English, and then they also learn the language of their ancestors in school (i.e. since Elder Wong's mom is from Taiwan, he studied Mandarin during high school). He's a very reserved personality, but when he bears testimony, it is a very pure and sincere testimony.

We inherited the north half of DouLiu, which is the less populated side, but we also got most of the secondary areas like CiTong, XiLuo, and LinNei. The chapel in DouLiu just got finished a few weeks ago, and it's a really nice building. They're having an open house on March 10th, and they're really pushing to get lots and lots of members, nonmembers, less actives, and everybody to come to it. The missionaries will be in charge of a little display in one of the rooms, where we will be introducing ourselves, missionary work in general, and so forth. It sounds like it's going to be really big; they've even been publishing advertisements in the paper and on TV. We've got a good branch here. The members seem really nice and the branch president is really supportive of us. I told him about my goal to baptize ten more people before I go home (did I already tell you about that? to hit my mission goal for baptisms I need to get ten more in these twelve weeks), and when I told him he was really pleased and he said "That's great! What can we do to help you hit that?" So I'm really excited for the chance to serve here.

And now a miracle story from my letter to President Bishop, courtesy of the miracle called copy-and-paste:

This last week we saw many great miracles. One of those was that even though we didn't really have weekly goals since we didn't have a weekly planning session, we did decide that we wanted at least one investigator at church. We hit the streets and worked hard Friday and Saturday, talking to everyone and tracting what felt like hundreds of doors. We didn't find anybody who let us in, but we did run into a big guy on a scooter who said he was Christian. We invited him to come to church the next day, and he said he would. Sunday morning came, and he truly did show up. He stayed for all three hours and afterward he said that this church gave him a feeling unlike any other church he's ever attended. He said it felt like home. He also told us a lot of the problems in his life; because of his weight he has a lot of health problems, depression, and difficulty speaking. He's willing to keep meeting with us and prepare to be baptized. This is a miracle because of all the prayers that went into making sure he came. We prayed our hearts out and the Lord answered our pleas. I am so grateful for this tender mercy to help us get the area started as soon as possible.

So yes, things are looking up already. The power of prayer works. I am confident that the Lord gives you that which you focus on and desire the most. If you put your energy, prayers, and efforts on any aspect of the work, the Lord will allow you to accomplish it. We're not really sure what this next week will hold, but I trust that we'll continue to see miracles.

Well, it's time to wrap up, I think. I sure love you all and I thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I'll talk to you again next week!

Love, Carter

Monday, February 20, 2012

Here we are together

Well, it was a pretty good week. That (name) Family I told you about last week met with us a couple of times and then came to church on Sunday. The ward really liked them, fellowshipped them like crazy, and the dad even said the closing prayer after priesthood. The mom was a little less excited. She kept taking her daughter outside because she, I think, was a little uncomfortable and didn't want to meet new people. However, I have a lot of hope for this family. The dad, at least, really likes the church.

Brother (name) was confirmed yesterday. He's just a very happy guy. He's just so pleased to be at church and the members are really doing a great job of loving and strengthening him. Our other converts all came to church as well--all seven of those most recently baptized attended. I love to see that, because we want to not just baptize people, but bring them in to stay and help them contribute and learn and grow.

Yesterday we also met with the father of one of our members. He seems to have softened up a lot in the three years his son has been a member. We invited him to learn the gospel with us and come to church and he said "Yes, I think it's time for me to learn a little bit of gospel." It's definitely the good example of this member that brought his father to the point that he is willing to accept the gospel. He's very loving, courteous, and patient with his dad, which I'm sure opened his dad's heart.

So things are going pretty well here in Tainan. Which brings me to that other point of news I need to tell you. I got a call from President Bishop today telling me that he wants me to be a trainer again. I'm going to be leaving Tainan and moving to DouLiu, in YunLin county. It's what we call a "white wash," meaning both of us will be new to this area. We're splitting the area with the Elders who are currently there. I really wasn't expecting this. I thought I'd probably be here until the end of my mission, but it seems Heavenly Father has something else in store. I will leave Tainan on Friday. It's a little nerve-wracking, but as always I just need to trust in God and seek what it is He wants me to do.

I don't really know what else to say, so I guess I'll wrap it up. I sure love you all! I pray for you every day and I know God is blessing all of us.

I love you!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hello there again! This week has been a pretty hectic and tiring POWER week, but it was worth it.

Well, this was a great week. It was a real struggle to hit some high goals, but in the end we had some good results. We had a double baptism on Sunday after Stake Conference. Brothers (name) and (name) were baptized and entered into the fold of God. The ten-year-old boy, (name), was baptized by his dad who is going to China today and won't be back for three months. It was a true miracle. On Monday we went there for the family home evening and played a little game of pictionary to review the commandments. I was really happy that Brother and Sister (name) were both on the same page; they'd evidently decided that we were right and they wanted their son baptized before Brother (name) was gone. (name) passed his interview the next day in about ten minutes (an average interview takes about 45) and he was baptized and confirmed on Sunday.

Brother (name) came to Stake Conference dressed in a suit and tie, looking very excited to be baptized. He's going to be confirmed next week in sacrament meeting. I really feel like the Lord is blessing us very richly because we're zone leaders. Elder Jensen and I are working really well together, and we're seeing blessings every day.

Another of those miracles happened on Saturday, which was "power talk to everyone day." We talked to literally everyone. Tons of people. One of those was a man buying drinks near a park, and he said we could come back to his house on Sunday. Yesterday we went there and his whole family was there--himself, his wife, and their adorable two-year-old daughter. They all sat and listened. Or should I say, the daughter couldn't sit still for four seconds, but the parents both listened. The dad was really cool; he just had that look like he belonged in the church. He's really willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray, and we're going back there on Thursday. I have high hopes for them. My whole mission long I've had a goal to baptize a family, and my time is getting ever shorter. I'm praying hard that they can be baptized, or if it's not them, that I will find that family.

It was a great week, but there's not a whole lot more to report. We're still working hard and trying our best. Tomorrow we will be teaching our zone at a "combined district training meeting," which should be a lot of fun.

I think spring finally came, because it's been pretty hot the last few days. But then once in a while Taiwan's weather hits us with a sucker punch in the form of a really cold night, which is miserable if you're unprepared for it.

Talk to you again after the passing of seven suns!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Springtime A-comin'

Hello again everybody! We just spent about six hours POWER CLEANING our apartment. It's powerfully clean now. But boy, it wears me out.

This week was a week of miracles. On Friday night after returning from zone leader council, we called the Bishop to ask if he'd been able to convince the father of 10-year-old (name) to let his son be baptized next Sunday, the 12th. Both parents are members, but they were nervous about letting him be baptized so quickly. Anyway, the Bishop said the dad was going to China for three months and they wanted to postpone the baptism until he returned. Needless to say, we immediately rode over to the (name) Family's house.

As we were praying outside their door, two members, a mom and her 19-year-old son, pulled up on their scooter. The mom was Sister (name)’s friend, and also (name)’s primary teacher. What more evidence do you need that God sends angels to help His missionaries? The four of us talked to Sister (name) for a while, and because of their powerful testimonies, she was willing to talk to her husband about having (name) baptized on the 12th. We're going over there in a couple hours to have a family home evening with them and prepare (name) for a baptismal interview.

Another miracle was yesterday's turnout at church. We had many investigators at church, including Brother (name), who is going to be baptized next Sunday after stake conference, and two members of a family we've been teaching. They both really seemed to enjoy their experience, and the Relief Society sisters did really well at fellowshipping the mother. The fourth person was a Brother (name), who is about 22 years old. He's really willing to keep the commitments to read and pray, and we promised him lots of blessings for coming to church, so he came. We also had the highest percentage of recent converts attend church that I've ever seen--seven out of eleven attended, including one man who yelled at us on the phone a couple months ago and said he never wanted us to call him or come to his house ever again. That was pretty amazing and unexpected.

This week is a power week, meaning we set higher goals than usual and push ourselves harder than ever. We leave the door half an hour earlier and eat meals as fast as possible so we can get back to work. I'm excited for it, even though I know it's going to be exhausting. I've found that President Bishop's promise is true--happiness in missionary work is directly linked to diligence. When we work our hardest, we obtain the greatest blessings.

I guess I could explain a little more about Brother (name). He's the one who used to be an investigator, and he called us and asked to meet with us and be baptized and so forth. I'm really glad to see that he has been able to make friends at church and make changes in his life to qualify to be baptized. He's just so nice and humble. Elder Jensen told him to bring his Jehovah's Witness bible so that we could throw it away, and he did it. We told him to wear a helmet when he bikes to church; he did it. I'm really happy that the Lord blessed us to find him and help him prepare for baptism.

Well, that's about it for this week. Sorry if my email seems scattered and rushed. We cleaned so hard and so long today that we don't have a lot of time for emailing. I want you all to know I love you very much and I'm still happily working my tail off to invite others to come unto Christ. I'm still looking for a family of investigators who I can baptize all together before the end of my mission. The clock is ticking, so I'll keep praying and searching.

I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!